Acacia Mining Plc has until March 30 to stop waste water pollution at its North Mara gold mine in Tanzania or the mine will be shut down, the country’s mining minister said.
Doto Biteko, appointed minister in January with orders to be “strict” on managing Tanzania’s mineral wealth, said Acacia must stop contaminated water seeping from a waste storage dam at the mine to nearby communities in the country’s north.
“We have given them until March 30 to fix this problem or face closure without notice. The life of even one Tanzanian is worth more than their gold mining activities,” Biteko told Reuters.
Acacia Mining Tanzania said it did not have an immediate comment.
North Mara has produced more than 2 million ounces of gold since in began commercial operations in 2002, according Acacia’s website.
It has the capacity to process an average of 8,000 tonnes of ore per day, or about 2.8 million tonnes per year.
Biteko said after inspecting the mine that toxic water from waste rock at North Mara’s tailings storage facility was being discharged into the environment.
The mine has faced long-standing accusations of pollution, which Acacia Mining has previously denied.
“It’s good for them that they have already started to take measures to address this issue. But we will visit the mine again on March 30 to make sure that all the environment concerns have been fully resolved, otherwise we will take stern measures against them,” Biteko said.
Acacia’s troubles in Tanzania began after President John Magufuli, nicknamed “The Bulldozer”, swept to power in late 2015 pledging to secure a bigger share of the country’s natural resource wealth and fight corruption.
Production at the London-listed miner’s other two gold-producing mines in Tanzania—Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi—has been hampered by a ban on exports of gold and copper concentrates.